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They Stood Across the Graveyard

by wilburkenny

They stood across the graveyard

Of those by temptation claimed

The tombs lay weeping, shroud in shadow

Each grave by a single word named.

It's the end of all, the world was empty,

No living thing breathed therein

The prophets and teachers were right all along!

Man had succumbed to sin.

They stood across the graveyard,

On one stone the word was Envy.

Some Wrath, Sloth, Greed, and Lust,

And some named Pride or Gluttony.

Now God looked on his world and cried,

"What's happened to my sheep?

Oh, angels, avenge my children dear,

and their souls are yours to keep."

So they stood across the graveyard,

Two armies of four and seven,

Humanities' greatest sins, sent by the devil himself,

And four horsemen, whispering, 'take them, take them.'

War charged first, and with two shots from his rifle

Brought Wrath and Envy to their knees.

Wrath's hate flowed out red and useless with his blood

And Envy's desire soon lost in the breeze.

Next came Pestilence, with her plaguing breath

Took Lust and Sloth asunder

Lust poisoned by the diseases passed through the ones she pleases,

And Sloth, by neglect, fell under.

From disease came Famine, and with his sickle

Claimed Gluttony and Greed for his own.

They ate and hoarded until all was gone

And with bellies full, hearts empty, died alone.

Six corpses lay on the graveyard still,

Though Pride stood tall, head high.

The blood of his friends stained his feet,

But he yet shouted taunts to the sky.

"Are you afraid to sting me, O Death?

The spirits of the others are free,

But what Empress of the Dead are you," he crowed,

"If you cannot kill me?"

Death was silent, though Pride could see

Her lips in a  twisted grin.

She grabbed hold of his shoulder and spoke in his ear,

Her voice like a winter wind crawling in.

"What have I to fear?" Said the last of the four,

"You've done my work on your own.

You left your friends to die, you see,

And I thank you for challenging me alone."

Whilst speaking, from her cloak she drew

A simple kitchen knife.

With sudden force, she slit Pride's throat,

And away ebbed his life.

So Death went to her horse and left him there,

While Pride drew his last breath.

As the four horsemen abandoned the graves askew,

She whispered, "Not even pride conquers death."

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96 Reviews

Points: 78
Reviews: 96

Thu Aug 05, 2021 7:43 pm
InuYosha wrote a review...

Welcome to YWS!

You can call me Yoshi. Hope you have a fun time here!

They stood across the graveyard

Of those by temptation claimed

The tombs lay weeping, shroud in shadow

Each grave by a single word named.

Nice start! I absolutely adore introductions, and this is a really nice one! I think I have a feel for how the poem is going to keep going, since you're obviously on the topic of death.

I especially like line seven ("The prophets and teachers were right all along!"). I don't really know why, but this line kind of has this little 'giving up' mood without actually giving up, if you get what I mean.

Okay, so ignore anything I said about expecting what was going to happen from the beginning. This poem is phenomenal! I love how you personify things like Envy, Wrath, Pride, Death, etc. I've seen stuff like that done before, but the way you did it was amazing. I know this might sound a bit cliche, but I was hooked on it until the very end. However, seeing how well your body and conclusion was (especially the execution at the end), I want to talk about your introduction again.

I mentioned I'm a bit crazy for intros, so let's talk about that. I think your introduction is strong, but not nearly strong enough for the rest of your poem. The story you've described in the poem is so powerful, but the introduction could use some work. Even if you're trying to go in the "Surprise the reader" direction, it can still have some buildup and tension.

They stood across the graveyard

Of those by temptation claimed

The tombs lay weeping, shroud in shadow

Each grave by a single word named.

Apologies for quoting the first stanza again, by the way.

Anyways, if you mentioned something about the personified emotions in this stanza before all that stuff at the end, it would have been amazing. The calmness in this stanza kind of threw me off.

Same thing with the next few lines. They were decent lines, but couldn't compare to the amazing rest of your poem. In fact, you could have actually just added a stanza there. Creating the buildup for the climax is really important, especially in story-telling style poems like this.

Anyways, I hope you were satisfied with this review!

Best of luck,

User avatar
359 Reviews

Points: 37050
Reviews: 359

Sat Jul 31, 2021 2:50 pm
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Plume wrote a review...

Hey there! Plume here, with a review! And welcome to YWS!!

This was such a great poem!! The concept and execution were both very clever and delightful. It reminded me a lot of some classic poems, what with the rhyme scheme and topic. It was a real trip to read, and was utterly rich and delightful. Nice work!

I think part of what made this poem so great was the overall vibe. It was so interesting to have these pretend figures that have been used as symbols of humanity and humanity's downfall interact with each other. I think there was a symbolism throughout this whole thing. You state that the setting of this is most likely after a sort of doomsday or apocalypse, and humanity is gone. Having the horsemen of the apocalypse kill off humanity's sin is so poetic in a way (I guess that's why you wrote a poem about it, haha). It shows how humanity spiraled downward, resorting to sin as the world ended, but now that they're gone, the seven deadly sins can't exist without them, even though they were the last to go.

I also really loved how you had each horseman have sins to kill. It was all very thought out. I liked how war took down wrath and envy, and pestilence took down sloth and lust. It all seemed very intentional, and the way you were able to sort of... cross-reference what the sins represented within the horseman was so satisfying to read. Your last line was also so chilling; it really added to that idea that death is final. Great work!

One thing I wondered about was your syllabic patterns. They weren't all the same, and they don't have to be, but I feel like there were some flow issues, especially on some of your longer lines. While I was reading, lines like "Humanities' greatest sins, sent by the devil himself" and "War charged first, and with two shots from his rifle" kind of disrupted the flow for me. I think that maybe reading your poem aloud would help with that, and also thinking about synonyms for words that either have more or less syllables.

Overall: really nice work! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this poem, and the visuals and flow of it were stunning. I hope to read more of your work soon, and once again, welcome to the site!! Until next time!

wilburkenny says...

Hey, thank you! Really appreciate the input, shawty, means a lot ^^

Pain is filtered in a poem so that it becomes finally, in the end, pleasure.
— Mark Strand